ARC Review: In the Wild Light by Jeff Zentner
In the Wild Light is another beautiful novel from Award-Winning Author Jeff Zentner! We are calling it now, if this book doesn’t win all the awards (or at least some), then we may just have to give up blogging forever; because this may be the best work from Jeff yet. There is such beauty in these pages, and yes, be ready to cry your face off!
Check out both our thoughts below and be sure to preorder this one now for the August 10th release and you can grab a signed copy from Parnassus Books! Be sure to put in the comments you want a signed book & personalization if you want, plus if you are local to Nashville, you can go to the event in person!
Many thanks to Penguin Teen for an advance copy which in no way influences our thoughts below.
In the Wild Lightby Jeff Zentner
Published by: Crown Books for Young Readers
on August 10, 2021
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
From the award-winning author of The Serpent King comes a beautiful examination of grief, found family, and young love.
Life in a small Appalachian town is not easy. Cash lost his mother to an opioid addiction and his Papaw is dying slowly from emphysema. Dodging drug dealers and watching out for his best friend, Delaney, is second nature. He’s been spending his summer mowing lawns while she works at Dairy Queen.
But when Delaney manages to secure both of them full rides to an elite prep school in Connecticut, Cash will have to grapple with his need to protect and love Delaney, and his love for the grandparents who saved him and the town he would have to leave behind.
My eyes hurt from tears…and from the beauty & vulnerability that exists in this book. Jeff’s poetic, lyrical words cut through deep to your core. This hauntingly gorgeous glimpse of life and pain and becoming who you truly are, embrace all you love, where you’re from, and the truths you’ve lived.
This book is slightly different than the last 3 by Jeff, as this one is filled with the most poetic prose and actual freaking poems! There is heartbreak, there is grief, these characters do not have an easy go with it, but by all that is holy on this earth, I was cheering them on the entire way.
Jeff lets us know from the very first chapter that we will eventually be bawling our eyes out…and he delivers that truth, but as our main characters, Cash & Delaney, build themselves back up after their loss, they become closer than ever. This novel is a love story to small mountain towns, your family, and your best friends. Hold them tight, show them you love them, and then hug them all some more.
This is my favorite Jeff Zentner book, and definitely one of the best books I’ve read this year.
I’m pretty sure this man lives to kill us one word typed on his cell phone at a time. This is Jeff’s most poetic book yet, which says a lot if you’ve read his others. His books read like songs to my heart, and I hope he keeps playing bookish music for a long time.
What’s special about this book is the clear tribute to his Appalachian community. From the cover to the vernacular, In the Wild Light serves to share the rich people (and their beautiful natural environment) Jeff lives amongst. I could feel the vibrancy of the community, hear the sounds, smell the scents – this book is a visceral image of a people we often stigmatize. It was like floating on the river at sunrise.
Jeff writes dual POVs, and male and female POVs, with ease. I’ve come to enjoy that about his books. The multiple perspectives keep us flipping pages to see what each character is experiencing. You’ll also find some of the best dialogue and banter within these pages.
In the Wild Light is a love story, of community, family, friendship, and more. Bring tissues and be ready for Cash, Delaney, and Papaw to live in your heart long after you’ve closed the pages.